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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

SeeqPod: Find and play music found on the web

SeeqPod is a search engine for finding music on the web. But it's much more than that. Enter an artist or song title in SeeqPod and it will look for MP3s, video files, or web sites related to you term and present them in a nice clean list -- with links to play the files on the site. You can use SeeqPod without registering for an account, but if you want to save playlists you'll want to sign up for a free account.

SeeqPod has been around since last year, but we're having one of those days where we keep thinking of cool things we've never shared with you before. This morning it was the K-Meleon web browser, and now we bring you SeeqPod.

There are a few other nifty things you can do with SeeqPod, like embed audio clips on your web page or find lyrics or tour dates from an artist. Or you can even embed an audio search and playback widget on your web site.

Bear in mind, many of the songs that SeeqPod finds on the web are not exactly being legally distributed. But since SeeqPod isn't actually hosting the files itself, the company is sort of gray market and may be able to stand up against any future legal challenges. Or it may not.

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Wigix wants to be the next eBay, offers no-fee auctions to do it

In case you hadn't noticed, there's been a bit of a revolt among eBay power sellers. Basically, eBay increased some fees, which led some buyers to hold a boycott. But the truth of the matter is eBay is a giant, and if you make a decent portion of your income buying and selling goods on eBay, there aren't a ton of good alternatives. Wigix wants to change that, and the site is willing to waive fees on all items sold for less than $25 to do it. For pricier items, WIgix has significantly lower transaction fees than you'll find on eBay.

Wigix isn't exactly an auction like eBay. Rather, it's an "exchange," which lets buyers and sellers connect with one another. Sellers don't have to fill out product descriptions manually. Instead they choose from a database of products which already have product descriptions. This database also makes the search process easy for buyers. When you start to enter a term in the search box, Wigix will provide a list of items to chose from before you even hit enter. When you find the item you're looking for, you can see how many buyers and sellers there are, and you can set a price at which you're wiling to buy an item. As soon as the item is available for that price, Wigix will hook you up with a seller.

You can conduct similar transactions with eBay's Half.com, which lets you "pre-order" an item which will automatically be purchased as soon as someone offers one for sale at your desired price. But Half.com only includes books, movies, music, and video games, while Wigix users can sell pretty much anything.

[via Mashable]

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Skype for Windows hits version 3.8

Less than a month after releasing a public beta of Skype 3.8 for Windows, the company has launched a public version of the updated internet telephony client.

As a point release, you shouldn't expect to find a ton of new features in Skype 3.8. Most of the changes are under the hood, but users should notice improved call quality, meaning fewer dropped calls, less delay, and less background noise. The new version should also do a better job of automatically configuring your firewall and router settings.

Skype has also hidden away user profile images from incoming requests. This might not sound like a big deal, but if you've ever received a request from someone with an avatar you'd rather not display on your work computer, this update could be a life saver.

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Yelp launches business accounts

Yelp for Business OwnersYelp lets customers write reviews of restaurants, shops, and all sorts of other businesses in communities throughout the country. And that's the sort of service that makes the site both incredibly useful and incredibly dangerous for business owners.

Now Yelp is giving business owners tools that let them keep a closer eye on the reviews their establishment is receiving. If you sign up for a Business Owner Account, you can track how many people view your business page, update your business profile, and send messages to people who have reviewed your business. In order to get a business owner account, you'll obviously need to verify that you actually run the business in question.

Of course, there's no guaranty that you'll be able to prevent people from writing that your food tastes stale or that your bathrooms are smelly unless you actual improve your food and clean your bathrooms. You know, unless those folks on the internet are lying. But that never happens.

[via TechCrunch]

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jotti's Malware Scan: Online virus scanner

Nothing really beats a good firewall or anti-malware program that offers real-time protection. But if something was going to come close, we'd say a tool that lets you check files against 20 different antivirus might come close. Jotti's Malware Scan is an online tool that lets you upload a file and scan it with 20 different antivirus tools including Avast, ClamAV, and Kaspersky.

Note that there's a big ole warning on the site letting users know that just because Jotti's Malware Scan says a file is clean doesn't mean it's safe to run that executable file you found on BitTorrent that promises to show nude pictures of Billy Ray Cyrus -- wait, no, that's not the person people are looking for naked photos of, is it? Anyway, this warning message was probably placed on the site to point out that the developers take no responsibility for any problems you may have with files scanned. But in general, we'd say that if you feel the need to scan a file with 20 different antivirus applications, you probably already know that you shouldn't be opening it.

[via MakeUseOf]

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Find similar websites with WhoisLike.it

Looking for more web sites like Download Squad? While we think you'd be hard pressed to find a site written by bloggers as talented, well-rounded, and good looking as us, there might be a few other sites that you'd find interesting. And WhoisLike.it will help you find them.

The WhoisLike.it homepage is so sparse that it makes Google's home page look crowded. But it couldn't be easier to use. Just type in the URL of a web site you like, and WhoisLike.it will analyze the content and spit out a list of sites that seem to have similar content. Each site features a screen shot to boot.

It's not quite clear how WhoisLike.it determines which sites are similar. It could be checking for incoming and outbound links, or the service could be looking for keywords and comparing a site with other pages in its database. But it does appear to work pretty well. While you certainly won't find every similar page on the web this way, WhoisLike.it will probably turn you on to a few interesting sites you may not have seen before.

[via Rotor Blog]

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CCleaner 2.0 Decrapifies Your PC

Windows only: One of our favorite PC cleansers CCleaner (which stands for "Crap Cleaner") saw an upgrade this week. Since the last time we mentioned CCleaner several new versions have come out; this week's added support for the Firefox 3 beta plus performance improvements and bug fixes. CCleaner scans your PC for unnecessary temporary and log files, cookies, memory dumps, and more and wipes them out at the press of the "Run Cleaner" button. You might be surprised at how much disk space it can recover—in fact, it managed to clear out 1.6GB of crap from my PC. See screenshot evidence after the jump.


CCleaner also includes a registry scanner, startup manager, and Add/Remove Programs area to uninstall applications you don't use anymore. CCleaner 2.0 is a free download for Windows only.

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Share Large Files Using Gmail and Box.Net

The Digital Inspiration blog points out a feature of Box.net's free web storage service that makes sending large files through email links super-easy. If you're signed up and already have your free 1 GB of space, simply enable the Gmail or Outlook services (the latter will also work with Mozilla Thunderbird), and right-clicking on files or folders will set up a message that shares the files with any recipients. As Digital Inspiration puts it, it's similar to the RapidShare sharing method, but a lot less painful for the recipients.

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K7 Offers Free Fax/Voicemail Lines

k7_cropped.jpgNeed a phone line to receive a one-time fax or voicemails on a particular project, auction, or job search? Free service K7 hands out 10-digit Seattle-area phone numbers that can answer calls with customized voicemail greetings or accept faxes. You can access both the audio files and fax documents through your sign-up account, and the only restrictions are a 20-message/fax limit (the site starts deleting the oldest after that) and an account wipe out after 30 days of inactivity. Other than that, you've got a free bin to keep your personal numbers private and still get at your messages.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

AVG 8.0 Free released, now with protection from spyware

A few months ago, Grisoft updated its AVG anti-virus suite to version 8 and bundled linkscanning, anti-spyware, and anti-rootkit software to boot. Now Grisoft's popular freeware anti-virus application is getting some of the same features. AVG Free 8 is out, and not only does it protect your system from viruses, but you get spyware detection as well.

AVG Free 8 doesn't have all of the features you get in the commercial version of the application. There's no rootkit protection or linkscanner. And there's no email or instant messaging integration. For those features you'll have to shell out $35 or $55 for the standard or "internet security" versions. But as freeware antivirus applications go, AVG is packed with features like real-time protection, daily updates, and complete system scans at regularly scheduled intervals.

Update: As several readers have pointed out in the comments, when you install AVG Free 8, you will likely find a bunch of advanced features like linkscanning and email protection. The AVG web site has a comparison chart showing that these features are included in the commercial version but not the free version. It's not clear if Grisoft is including free trials of these functions or if the chart is wrong.

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Add Facebook Chat to your Firefox sidebar

Facebook has finally rolled out its new chat feature to all users. That means you can chat with anyone on your Facebook contact list if the two of you are logged into the Facebook web page at the same time. But what if you like the idea of chatting with your Facebook friends, but hate the idea of keeping Facebook open in a browser tab all day?

Mozilla Links discovered a nifty trick for adding Facebook chat to your browser sidebar in Firefox. All you have to do is click on your bookmark toolbar and create a new bookmark. Give it whatever name you like, and enter this for the URL:

http://www.facebook.com/presence/popout.php

Make sure to select the button that says "Load this bookmark in the sidebar" and you should be all set.

Note that you can drag the sidebar divider to make the Facebook Chat window larger or smaller. If all you want to do is see your contact list, the sidebar doesn't take up much space as all. But if you want to actually open a chat window with one or more of your contacts, you'll need to widen the sidebar a bit, which will cost you some valuable web browser real estate.

Facebook Chat isn't the only instant messenger you can open in a Firefox sidebar. You can also create bookmarks for Google Talk and Meebo.

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Daphne: Drag and drop process explorer

If you need to kill a process in Windows, or just try to figure out which program is using up all of your precious system resources, all you have to do is open the Windows Task Manager. But what if you want to kill a non-responsive program, but you can't figure out where it is in the Task Manager? Sometimes the process names don't seem to bear any resemblance to program names.

Daphne solves this problem, by letting you drag and drop a little crosshair onto any running program on your PC. At its most basic level, Daphne lets you figure out which process goes with which program by highlighting the process in a list of running processes.

But you can also use Daphne to kill running programs, hide applications, or killing every process with the same name. Daphne would be worth checking out for its highly configurable task manager alone. But the drag and drop function is what makes this free utility really killer.

[via Lifehacker]

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Record screencasts or webcam videos with Debut

Debut could be one of the easiest to use video capture tools we've come across. You can use it to record videos or take screenshots from your webcam. You can use it to record screencasts. And you can save your files in a variety of formats including AVI, WMV, MP4, MPG, 3GP, and MOV. And best of all, Debut is free.

Here are just a few of Debut's features:

  • Record audio and video
  • Adjust resolution, framerate, and colors of the output video
  • Setup timed recordings by hour, minute, and second
  • Mirror recordings to a network or local hard drive
  • Automatically send videos via email once a recording is finished, or upload to an FTP site.
There are a ton of configuration options. In addition to recording your screen or from a webcam, you can record from any video input capture device on your computer. So if you've got a TV tuner, you can record live TV. If you want to record home movies from your video camera, you can do that too.

[via AppScout]

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LOOKTorrent: It's like YouTorrent but less useful

Now that YouTorrent is exclusively dedicated to boring, legal torrents, you might be looking for another BitTorrent search engine that searches a large number of BitTorrent trackers. LOOKTorrent fits the bill. Kind of.

The site lets you choose from a list of 25 BitTorrent trackers that you want to search. Enter your search term, and you'll start to find results from those pages. But unlike YouTorrent, which combines the results from each site onto one easy to use page, LOOKTorrent basically takes you to Mininova, The Pirate Bay, or whatever other sites you choose, while keeping a LOOKTorrent navigation tab at the top of the screen. If you don't find what you're looking for at one site, you can search the next. One at a time.

LOOKtorrent could come in handy if you can't find what you're looking for on one site, and need a good list of 25 BitTorrent trackers. But if you want all of your results on one page, you're probably better off with NowTorrents, ScrapeTorrent, or PizzaTorrent.

[via MakeUseOf]

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Microsoft release new Windows Vista Ultimate Extras

DreamSceneMicrosoft has released two new Windows Vista Ultimate Extras. Windows Vista has been out for over a year, and so far Microsoft has released remarkably few Extras. The company initially promised that Extras would be special applications available to Vista Ultimate users that would help set the premium version of the operating system apart from cheaper versions. But Microsoft has been rather slow to deliver.

Today, users can download a new content pack for DreamScene, an animated desktop background application. There are also two new sound schemes called Glass and Pearl. Reading their descriptions is a bit like reading the description of a fine wine, so if you want to know what they sound like, you'll probably just have to download the packs yourself. Or you can listen to an audio demo created by Long Zheng of istartedsomething.

In other news, Microsoft has also released 18 updated language packs for Windows Vista, which should show up via Windows Update.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

BBC Launches Social Media Music Chart

BBC Radio 1 announced a major update to their music charts about a week ago. Traditionally, mainstream music popularity has been measured by album sales or radio plays -- or a combination of the two. But with albums selling fewer copies through traditional channels and radio losing ground to online music, the Beeb decided to take a look at the web to determine artist popularity. Their new Sound Index app, determines the top 1,000 artists based on buzz across some of the web's largest music, video, and social networking sites.


Every six hours, Sound Index crawls Bebo, MySpace, Last.fm, iTunes, Google and YouTube to track which artists people are talking about, listening to, watching, and downloading. The results are compiled into a top 1,000 list presented on the site with a nifty CoverFlow-style animation. The index is currently analyzing over 23 million comments, posts, plays and views.

Song Index also provides some nice filtering tools. Users are able to filter by location (US, UK, and other), age, gender, and which source sites to take into account when creating custom charts. We'd love to see the BBC offer some chart widgets, so that bands could display their rankings on their social networking profiles, and people could display their custom charts.

Each band in the index also gets a profile page, that includes a short profile, links to official and social networking pages, and a discography.

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Oosah Connects Social Sites for Easy File Transfers

Sometimes you like a photo so much, you want to post it to Facebook, Flickr, and all your other Web 2.0-type identities.

Oosah is a self-described “media management system” with a simple-sounding intention: to serve as a one-stop shop for managing all of your online video, image, and audio files. This idea doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in isolation, so Oosah is using the Web 2.0 Expo this week to release a set of integrations with other services.

The new integrations allow you to drag-n-drop files between Oosah, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, and Picasa. The Oosah site itself is essentially a free 2GB online storage service with a snazzy, browser-based file management tool. Once you give it credentials to these other content-sharing sites, it becomes a hub of sorts that reduces the pain points to data transfer.

When I first heard about Oosah, I figured it would appeal to the same set of internet power users that goes ape over social network aggregators. But after checking it out, it became evident that Oosah also appeals to the MySpace faithful by making it easy to widgetize your digital media.

In addition to integrating with other services, the site is releasing a new gallery widget to compliment its slideshow widget. Each can be used to embed Oosah-hosted photos and videos onto webpages and social network profiles. These widgets actually strike me as the most useful parts of Oosah, since they equip ordinary people will easy ways to distribute their personal media.

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RoamAbout browser plugin brings web services to any page

What do Gmail, Facebook, MapQuest, and Weather.com all have in common? They're web sites, but they're also web-based services, providing access to interactive tools like email, mapping, or weather forecasting. Typically, if you want to take information from one web page and enter it in another, you have to do a lot of copying and pasting. For example, if you find an address online and want to see it on a map, you have to copy the address, open a new window or tab, open a map service like Google Maps, and paste the address before you get your results.

But why take the data to the web service, when the web service can come to the data? This morning Vysr is launching a new browser plugin for Firefox and Internet Explorer called RoamAbout. It lets you access a series of web tools from any page.

At launch, a handful of services like Facebook, del.icio.us, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, MapQuest, and Google Maps will be supported. Users can highlight an address on any web page, and click a button in the toolbar to plot the address on a map and then email the map to a friend. Or you can select a zip code or city name and check the weather by hitting another button to pull up the Weather.com interface.

Users can pick from categories like maps or weather and select the services they want to be able to pull up from an in-browser toolbar. The company hopes to add new services every week. And Vysr is also releasing an API to allow third parties to add services to RoamAbout.

Since RoamAbout works with Firefox, the service is compatible with Mac, Linux, and Windows systems. Vysr CEO Guda Venkatesh says the plugin is just a 30kb download, and uses less RAM than opening up a new tab in your browser with Facebook or another web service.

RoamAbout is available as a public beta. The program is free for users, but eventually Vysr may ad contextual advertising to the interface. Vysr also hopes to work with web publishers to develop tools that will let you interact with web services directly from a web page even if you haven't installed the toolbar yourself.

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View photo slideshows in Yahoo! Mail

Yahoo! has added the ability to view photos in email messages as slideshows without downloading them first. Honestly, we're not entirely certain when this feature was added, but it was brought to our attention by a reader comment. When we looked into it, we found that at least five months ago, there was no photo slideshow feature. And now there is. So we're going to call it a new feature.

In order to view attached images as a slideshow, you'll need to switch to the Yahoo! Mail beta interface. This feature is not available in Yahoo! Mail classic. When you receive an email with attached images, you should see an option to show images. Once you click the button, you should see several thumbnails at the bottom of your message, and the option to view those images as a slideshow.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Duct tape saved Apollo 17 moonbuggy, while on the moon.

On the NASA website today, a tale in praise of the many merits of duct tape when one is on the moon with a busted buggy:

The date was Dec. 11, 1972. Astronauts Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt had just landed their lunar module Challenger in a beautiful mountain-ringed valley named Taurus-Littrow on the edge of the Sea of Serenity. (...)

Cernan: "Okay. I can't say I'm very adept at putting fenders back on. But I sure don't want to start without it. I'm just going to put a couple of pieces of good old-fashioned American gray tape on it...(and) see whether we can't make sure it stays."

In spite of his thick gloves, Cernan managed to unroll and tear off the needed pieces, but moondust foiled his first repair:

Cernan: "…good old-fashioned gray tape doesn't want to stick very well." (At a post flight briefing he explained: "Because there was dust on everything, once you got a piece of tape off the roll, the first thing the tape stuck to was dust; and then it didn't stick to anything else.")

His second attempt succeeded, however. "I am done!" crowed Cernan. "If that fender stays on ... I'd like some sort of mending award." And with that, they were off.

Link. Image: The Apollo 17 moonbuggy fender repaired with duct tape.

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Skype to launch unlimited international calling plan


Have friends, relatives, or business contacts located in faraway lands? Internet telephony company Skype is launching its first plan that lets you make unlimited international PC to telephone calls, assuming you're calling a landline in one of 34 countries covered by the plan.

Most of Europe is covered, as well as the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.The $9.95/month plan doesn't cover calls to cellphones in all areas, but you can call mobile phones in the US, Canada, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Or you can just convince everybody you know to install Skype on their computers and mobile phones so you can make Skype to Skype calls for free.

[via AP]

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Necessities We Can Do Without



Technology, by contrast, mutates quickly, and we're adapting right along with it. The things we couldn't live or work without only a few years ago are now only valuable for their scrap metal. And get ready for more change. Think your laptop is essential? Guess again. Chances are that before long, you'll be tempted to give up that five-pounder for a nifty ultra-mini PC that slides into a satchel or your purse.

In Pictures: 12 Necessities We Can Do Without

...and that's how you really reduce the number of gadgets that you once thought that you needed.

[via Forbes.com]

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TwittEarth Makes Twitter A Global Experience

Twitter visualizations are nothing new, but they always provide a great way to waste some time. The newest, TwittEarth, is eye-candy at its finest - a mesmerizing and mostly useless diversion that sticks you in space and whips you around the globe to see a new geo-located tweet every ten seconds. Tweets are accompanied by small, goofy icons that remain static on the map, eventually providing an interesting representation of usage distribution.

The app itself is very simple at this point. There don’t seem to be any settings to speak of, and there isn’t any way to stray from the default view. Users can login to the application and send their own messages, but it’s far more fun to zone out and watch tweets pop up around the globe.

TwittEarth is available as a Windows screen saver (a Mac version is on the way), and was created by Digitas France SA.

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RegToy: All-purpose utility for Windows

It used to be that you would need four or five different programs to optimize your system, clean the registry, rename files, capture screens, etc...

That was before RegToy.

RegToy is a freeware utility that is basically a collection of utilities. The program sidebar is broken up into three main categories: System, User, and Others.

The System section allows you to perform seriously arcane apothecary, such as enabling a large system cache, forcing Windows to unload DLLs from memory, setting prefetch and MFT settings, tweaking your video card settings, and more.

In the User section, you have a whole screen dedicated to tweaking Windows Explorer, as well as different customization options for your Taskbar and Start Menu, Icon settings, Logon settings, and more.

In fact, if there's a statement that best personifies RegToy, it has to be "and more."

We'll let you search out what else RegToy has to offer, but if you're looking for a window manager, registry cleaner, file renamer, screen capturer, memory and disk cleaner, and more...then you should give RegToy a shot.

One warning: the home page loads very slowly. But trust us: it's worth the wait.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Gallery of "young me / now me" photos

newme-oldme.png























Charliekkendo says: "You have to see some of these images. Users duplicate a picture of themselves from when they were younger - same pose, the current "me" by the child "me." The results are fascinating."

Link

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Chopping down trees to make books is good for the environment, provided you then line your walls with bookcases

The editorial staff of the UK's Bookseller magazine want you to know that lining your exterior walls with books is practically a moral imperative, since it reduces your energy costs and saves the world. You don't have to tell me -- I've been lining my walls with books for decades.

In today's environment-conscious world, they also have another valuable function. "Books are the original insulator. A shelf of books along an outside wall works well to prevent heat escaping," says Joel Rickett. "If all the books were removed from the homes in Britain, our energy bills would rocket."
Link (Thanks, wiseGEEK!)

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

SearchMe: Cover flow visual search

SearchMe LogoWhen you go to a search engine and enter a search term, you're never quite sure what you're going to get. Google, Yahoo! and all the other major search engines will spit out a list of links with brief snippets of text that should give you a rough idea of what's on each web page. But until you click through, it's hard to tell if you'll find what you're looking for.

One way to fix this problem (if it is a problem, honestly it usually takes just a few seconds to find what you're looking for on Google), is to provide users with screenshots of a web page before they click through to visit that page. SearchMe is a new service that does exactly that.

Others, like Snap, have given visual search, sans download, a try but they never seem to gain enough traction and change strategies. Still some visual search engines remain. Exalead and EagleFind, both incorporate some form of visual search but they are nowhere near as visually pleasing as SearchMe.

When you enter a search term, SearchMe will scour its index for matching web pages. But instead of presenting you with a list of text links, you get a screen filled with web page screenshots. You can scroll through them in Cover Flow fashion to find the page you're looking for. If you like text based lists, you can use the list mode which will bring up a resizable list box at the bottom of the while keeping the thumbnails in the top.

Besides its visual appeal, SearchMe’s biggest advantage is its categorization feature. As you type your search query, categories auto-populate. This is handy for a search like “L7”, a band, a cell phone model and a sizing option. In this case I meant the band, so I can select the most relevant category and skip the useless information. You still have the option of searching through uncategorized results, should you need to.

The displayed results are eye catching but you have no idea how many results matched your search. However, I found my results to be pretty accurate and free of junk, especially after selecting a category. Maybe that’s because SearchMe isn’t as massive as Google, with about one billion pages indexed (compared to Google’s 20 billion). Even so, having a total number of results would be handy. For those of you addicted to the list view, you can adjust the cover flow view so you can see a list view as well. I still need a list view when I search. I haven’t completely adapted to visual only.

SearchMe settings

There are a handful of customization features that allow you to personalize your searches. Adult content is automatically filtered out of your results but you can opt for an unfiltered search experience. You also have the option of selecting either a “day” or “night” theme to your search page. One other preference is the ability to set whether or not links open in a new window. Kind of pointless when most search savvy users will apple/ctrl click to open links in a new window. SearchMe seems useful for searches with results that would be better displayed visually, like videos or photographs. In time, it may prove to be an engine capable of competing with Google, but it’s hard to imagine anything capable of that.

It’s still in private beta but they’re giving everyone access if you submit an email address. If you’re skeptical about it, watch the demo and see if that draws you in. I still find myself going back to Google for most searches but I enjoy having the ability to search visually, especially with cover flow. It just looks cool.


As mentioned earlier, SearchMe is currently in private beta, but you can request an invite from the site's home page.

[via BoomTown]

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CaTraxx music management application brings your music collection together

CaTraxx is a music management tool that aims to catalog all of your music, from digital media to CD's, cassettes, and vinyl.

CaTraxx will automatically scan your computer for any supported audio files and import them into its music database. Additionally, you can insert your CD's and CaTraxx will scan and download the audio tracks automatically. The program has a direct connection with the CDDB database; track and album information are instantly downloaded as you import your files.

CaTraxx also functions as a basic jukebox/media player, though iTunes and Windows Media Player would be better options if all you want to do is play your music.

So what good is CaTraxx? In my mind, it's beneficial to think of the program as a database rather than a music collection. So why do you need a database of your music? Well, for example, you might need a database for insurance purposes, in case your beloved vinyl collection is usurped by a thief (or vengeful ex). The database can also keep records of who borrowed pieces from your collection and when they borrowed it, so you never lose track of a CD.

CaTraxx is available as a fully functional trial; after that, it'll set you back $40. In my mind (can we say that twice in a post?), you'd have to be pretty obsessive of your collection to shell out that kind of dough.

[via AppScout]

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Avoid Blind TinyURL Clickthroughs

If you're regularly sent TinyURLs but have been burned one too many times by clicking through to an embarrassing link at the wrong time, head to TinyURL's preview page and enable previews. This old but useful feature will set a cookie in your browser, and henceforth all TinyURLs you click on with direct you to a landing page that will display the full link so you can make a more educated decision as to whether or not you should wait to visit the link.

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Super Screenshot: Web based tool for creating an image of any site

Want to take a screen capture of a web site? Not just the part you can see on your screen, but the whole page, even the parts you have to scroll for 20 minutes to find? Super Screenshot is a web based tool that will let you capture any page and save the output as a JPG or PNG image file.

You get a few options with Super Screenshot, like the ability to capture a whole page or just the top of the screen. You can also select the size of the final picture, but you don't get to set pixel heights and widths. Instead you get some rather unhelpful options like X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, and Full. So you might need a little trial and error time to find the right size.

If you want more control over your screenshots, you can always use a desktop application like Snagit. But if you're using a friend or coworker's computer and need to make a quick screenshot, Super Screenshot could come in handy.

[via Life Rocks 2.0]

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Introducing an occasional series - Download Pod

We spend a lot of time in front of our computers. But when we finally step away, you know what we like to do? Relax with a good book. No, just kidding! We download digital media from our computers and enjoy it on the go. With that in mind, today we're starting an occasional series bringing you reviews of some of our favorite audio and video podcasts.

We're going to try to avoid the big names at the top of the iTunes charts and bring you some of the more obscure podcasts we think are worth listening to. But that doesn't mean we won't don't love us some Science Friday from NPR or Diggnation. It just means that you're probably already well aware of them. We'd rather tell you about the Naked Scientists, Digital Planet, and Love & Radio.

If you have suggestions for podcasts you think we should check out, let me know in the shoutbox and comments.

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NewsGator adds RSS PostRank

NewsGator and AideRSS have partnered to add PostRank features to NewsGator's online RSS feed reader. PostRank is basically determined by looking at each item in a feed and determining its popularity based on factors such as how many comments it has received, how many other sites link to that post, how many times it has been saved to del.icio.us, or voted up on Digg. Each article is then assigned a rank between 1 and 10.

NewsGator users can now choose to sort their feeds according to PostRank, which will display the most popular items first, followed by less popular items. Of course, the system doesn't work very well if you're primarily interested in breaking news, as it takes time for an article to become popular. But if you just want to read the top news and skip the rest, PostRank can save you a lot of time.

AideRSS maintains its own website where you can enter any RSS feed to get its PostRank scores. Or you can install a Firefox plugin that will add PostRank to Google Reader. But thanks to the NewsGator integration, you won't need to visit a separate web site, download a plugin, or even know who AideRSS is to take advantage of their PostRank system.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Send Video Email to Family and Friends with Eyejot

Eyejot takes basic email and combines it with video to give you...video email. With Eyejot you can send and receive video messages with friends and business colleagues. The service is free, and doesn't require you to download any software or install anything to get started. Your inbox is an inbox of video that can be viewed directly on the webpage from any computer or any browser where ever you are.

The service could be great for people who travel but want to keep in contact with their children or family members who are in a different time zone or for people who always have the problem of coming off the wrong way in emails. Your Eyejots are not designed to be broadcast, or sent to large groups of people, but rather as a way to communicate through video emails.

You can either have a free account or a pro account. The limitation of a free account is that the messages are restricted to a measly 60 seconds which leaves you no time to say anything of substance, except “hi, I’m fine, here I am!”. A pro account for $29.95 a year, on the other hand, gives you 5 minutes which is still not that much time but is better than 60 seconds. Of course, if you’re hell-bent on not paying $30, you can break up your long video message into lots of little 60 second video messages, but to me, that’s a lot of stress for nothing. I’d rather pay the $30 and have an easier life.

When you make your Eyejot account, you will immediately see a regular inbox, just like a normal email account. But on the right of the screen, you also have a video screen, like the one you see here. On the left are the video emails you’ve received and the ones you’ve sent. By clicking on any of the video emails in your account, they will instantly play in the video player.

Making a video email is very straight forward. Just click the “record” button and start speaking. When you’re finished, play back the recording and make sure everything is OK. Then enter the email address of the intended recipient and click “send”. They’ll then get a notification email that a video email is waiting for them. They can then sign into Eyejot, go to their inbox and play back your video email.

The sound quality and picture qualiy is of course entirely dependent on what webcam and microphone you are using. Eyejot only feeds off what your webcam and microphone gives it. I made my first video email late at night which explains why the screenshot above is so dark.

Overall I am extremely impressed with the Eyejot service and I think I might slowly be getting hooked. I now just need to get my mother hooked on it too and then no longer will I have her on the phone constantly asking “so when will I see you next?”. If she wants to see me, she only has to go to her Eyejot inbox.

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Google Maps adds traffic predictions

Just a few days after Microsoft rolled out a new traffic prediction feature for Windows Live Maps, Google has followed suit with traffic predictions for Google Maps. Both services use historical traffic data to predict likely congestion points and travel time in the future. But there are two major differences:

  1. Windows Live Maps will suggest the best driving directions for avoiding traffic, Google Maps will not
  2. Google Maps lets you choose the day of the week and time of day to see projected traffic patterns, Windows Live Maps will not.
While both services are pretty useful, what we really want is a service that will combine both of these features. Mapquest, we're looking at you.

[via Google Operating System]

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Google publicly launches Website Optimizer

Google has taken the beta label off yet another project that is significantly younger than Gmail, which remains in beta. Google Website Optimizer has been available to AdWords customers for the past year, but now the company is making it available to anyone who wants to test out different web site layouts.

Basically, the tool lets web publishers try out different designs on their web page to see which one performs best. Want to see which ad unit is more likely to get people to click? Want to see which RSS icon is more likely to get people to subscribe to your site's feed? Google Website Optimizer will let you set up an experiment and track the results.

There's also a new Google Website Optimizer blog that you can follow for news and tips related to the tool.

[via Google Blogoscoped]

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Odeo launches private beta, shiny new interface



Podcast aggregator and search engine Odeo is beta testing a new web site, and from what we've seen so far, it's a vast improvement over Odeo's existing page. The first thing you'll notice (if you're invited to join the beta after signing up for an invite), is a new, cleaner look that makes it easier to find featured podcasts and browse by categories. But much more impressive is the new search feature. We didn't realize how poor the old search feature was until we tried searching for podcasts using the new search box and actually got accurate results immediately.

Here are a few other features of the new site:
  • Users can rate and comment on shows
  • Users can now submit feeds for podcasts that aren't included in the Odeo library
  • There's a pretty new Flash player
The beta page is still a work in progress and not every feature is available. For example, in order to get embed code for placing podcasts on your web site you have to click through to Odeo classic. But we're pretty excited at the direction Odeo is taking.

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Taboo Firefox extension saves your tabs for later

Are you sick of having multiple tabs open at one time because you have numerous items that you want to read or research? The Taboo Firefox extension will help cure your "tabitis" (their term, not ours, so don't hate on it) and minimize the glut of tabs on your tab bar.

Once Taboo is installed, you'll have two new items on your toolbar. When you click the first button, Taboo will take a snapshot of any web page you are on, including session state information (such as the scroll location and any data you've entered into forms), and store it for later. You can do this with as many tabs as you need.

When you want access to one of your saved tabs, click on the other Taboo button, and Taboo will load thumbnails of your saved pages into a new tab. From there, all you need to do is click on a saved page, and it will automatically load, complete with scroll location and any text you may have entered.

The saved pages are kept through browsing sessions and shutdowns, and for as many days as you like. Taboo even has a calendar view of all your saved tabs, if you want to access pages from days or weeks ago. You can also search among your pages using the url or page title as a keyword.

Taboo requires Firefox 2, and isn't yet compatible with the Firefox 3 beta.

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BayWords: Pirate Bay's blogging service

BayWords - Pirate Bay's blogging serviceIt looks like torrents isn't the only business the Pirate Bay is concerning itself with. First there was image hosting and now there's blogging. BayWords is the site's foray into the world of blogging services, aiming to provide a service that does not want to restrict "uncomfortable thoughts and ideas" and let people say and link to what they want (as long as it complies with Swedish law).

Apparently one of the Pirate Bay captains, Brokep, had a friend who's blog was shut down by linking to copyrighted material. This inspired him to offer this alternative, which runs on a customized version of a multi user install of Wordpress. The site plans to continue adding features, updates, and themes, and encourages users to "blog your heart out."

If you've been looking for a place to take your blog, BayWords might offer a nice home, as long as you don't mind having "myname.baywords.com" as your address. Or maybe you just want to be able to tell people that your blog is hosted by Swedish pirates. Or something like that. Unfortunately, it does look like ads will be implemented eventually to cover expenses, but information on bandwidth or other stats are not available at this point.

[via TorrentFreak]

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Bypass Password-Protected Feeds with FreeMyFeed

Many web-based feed readers, such as Google Reader, don't support RSS and Atom feeds protected by passwords, including the Gmail's unread messages feed. A new web service, FreeMyFeed, re-packages authenticated feeds without the password requirement by acting as a go-between. A co-worker of the site's creator states that usernames and passwords are "never stored on the server," and discarded immediately after parsing your feed, but it's up to you to determine if you can take the risk of offering up credentials on a protected feed. Or you could always stream only a certain Gmail label to your reader to avoid exposing your whole inbox. FreeMyFeed is free to use, no sign-up required.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

John Kessel's wonderful short story collection "The Baum Plan" free CC download


Small Beer Press is publishing John Kessel's first collection of short stories in ten years, The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories, as well as releasing it as a free download in a number of completely open format -- with, of course, no Digital Rights Management (DRM).

An astonishing, long-awaited collection of stories that intersect imaginatively with Pride and Prejudice, Frankenstein, The Wizard of Oz, and Flannery O'Connor. Includes John Kessel's modern classic "Lunar Quartet" sequence about life on the moon.

Reviews

"One of the best collections of the year."
-- Locus

"These well-crafted stories, full of elegantly drawn characters, deliver a powerful emotional punch."
-- Publishers Weekly

"John Kessel's writing exists at the edge of things, in the dark corner where the fiction section abuts the science-fiction shelves, in the hyphen where magic meets realism. Reading Kessel's wonderful fabulations is like staying out too late partying and seeing strange angels while stumbling home in the dawn's first light. This is one of those too rare short story collections that you can recommend with confidence to both the literary snob and the hard-core computer geek."
-- Rich Rennicks, Malaprop's Bookstore, Asheville, NC

Kessel's a superb writer and this is an amazing collection -- well done, Small Beer!

Link

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PluggedIn: High quality music videos from popular artists

There are plenty of music videos on popular video sharing sites like YouTube. Some of them were even uploaded by content owners who had the rights to the videos. But many aren't, and there's always a chance that music video you bookmarked yesterday could be pulled down tomorrow.

PluggedIn is a new music video site that doesn't have that problem because are all posted with the cooperation of 3 of the 4 major music studios: Universal, Sony BMG, and EMI. Warner hasn't signed on yet, but it could in the future. The site has about 10,000 videos and they're all high quality, with many available in HD video.

The biggest problem we have with the site is that like with most other 100% legal music sources, there's a good chance you won't be able to find what you're looking for. If you're looking for videos from Ashanti, Akon, or Nine Inch Nails, PluggedIn's got you covered. Mike Doughty or Tori Amos, not so much (although there is a Tom Jones video featuring Tori Amos on backing vocals available).

The service does have profile page for a ton of musicians, including artists with no videos available on the site. Users can view photos, read information about the artist, or purchase albums from Amazon. Users can also treat PluggedIn as a social networking site by creating profiles, marking favorite videos, and finding others with similar musical tastes.

[via VentureBeat]

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Free tool for downloading Google Web Albums to your Mac, PC, or Linux machine

Picasa Webalbums Assistant is a free Java tool that enables you to preview and download photos and entire albums from Picasa Web Albums.

The free program, written by computer studies student Bradley Beach, was designed for Mac and Linux users who don't have the built-in convenience of one-click downloading from Picasa Web Albums.

Picasa Webalbums Assistant enables you to download from albums that are both public or private. If you need to download from a public album, enter in the username of the Google account, and Picasa Webalbums Assistant will find all public albums under that username. If you want to save photos from a private album, you'll need the invite link sent by the user.

Once the album is located, the Assistant will automatically load preview thumbnails of all the pictures in the album. You can choose to download all of the pictures or a selection.

While Mac users patiently await the arrival of Picasa for the Mac (which one ambitious Google employee promised was coming this year), and its built-in communication with Picasa Web Albums, tools like Picasa Webalbums Assistant (and the free Picasa Web Albums Uploader) make the wait a little more bearable.

[via Lifehacker]

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Unhider reveals hidden windows

Unhider
How often has this happened to you? You're minding you own business, going about your day with your Windows PC, and suddenly Windows Explorer crashes, your screen goes momentarily blank, and when it comes back certain windows don't show up in your taskbar anymore. Those applications and services might not have actually been shut down, but for all intents and purposes, they're inaccessible. Or are they?

Unhider is a free utility that will let you show any program currently running on your Windows system. It works whether you've just recovered from an Explorer crash or not. In fact, it's almost more interesting to run Unhider when your system is working perfectly, since it presents an easy way to see all the programs you're running in the background and eating up RAM if not CPU cycles.

You can also use Unhider in reverse and hide any application that's running on your desktop in case you want to replicate that just-crashed feeling.

[via Freeware Genius]

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